Feb 262010

At dinner last night we had our first stinging nettles of the season. There were four of us at the table and each flavored the nettles (steamed) in a different way: butter and salt, salad dressing, vinegar or tamari.

Everyone enjoyed the nettles and because they are so abundant we will have them many more times while the leaves are young and tender. Some people say that nettles are about the healthiest thing you can eat and with organic kale and chard going for $1.99 for a small bunch it’s worth spending a few minutes harvesting a superfood for free.
“You’d have to eat a sink full of kale to get the protein in one serving of nettles.”

There’s lots of free food in the wilds of the Northwest and on Lummi Island. I own a fascinating book called Food Plants of the British Columbia Indians Coastal Peoples by Nancy J. Turner. It’s out of print and when I bought a used copy I had to pay fifty bucks! Right now on Amazon there are several copies for less than twenty.
The crux of this book is that the natives of the coastal NW learned to make use of most of the plants out there.

They smoked (in pipes) kinnikinnick leaves, dried salal berries for winter eating, boiled fern rhizomes, peeled the sprouts of salmon berries and thimble berries and used them raw and ate all the seaweeds.

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